Big Island Travel Blog
It is a Hawaiian tradition to talk, share, and enjoy the company of others. It's called "Talk Story" and we post some of our thoughts here.
By Joe Giglio
Published: 11/25/21 Topics: Comments: 0
It is no secret that the Kilauea crater on Hawai’i Island has reawakened with a furious and magnificent splendor, ending Pele’s relative hiatus since the volcano’s last eruption event in 2018.
Kilauea is the only active volcano in the Hawaiian Islands, and a majority of its eruptions occur at its Halema’uma’u crater. Kilauea is well known for its angry spurts exploding lava plumes and fountains more than 30,000 feet into the air. The Kilauea crater is perched precariously on the southeastern most shore of the Big Island, cascading magma and rock debris into the sea below.
Eruptions on Big Island are often felt throughout the islands, accompanied by earthquakes and a heavy volcanic fog cover that distributes across the archipelago. The Halema’uma’u crater is considered by Hawaiians to be the sacred home and body of Pele the goddess of fire, lightning, wind, and volcanoes.
She is credited with forging the Hawaiian Islands and is referred to as Madame Pele or Tutu Pele. Ancient legend describes Pele as the offspring of Haumea, the deity of fertility and childbirth. She is said to have had many brothers and sisters in deities of water, waves, clouds, wind, rain, and other elements. Legend tells how Pele lit a fire on the islands as she traveled from Tahiti to Hawai’i. Her sister Namaka chased and fought Pele, having battles on many of the islands. Pele was eventually killed, her body destroyed, and her spirit preserved in the crater at Kilauea.
Hawaiian culture describes Pele’s body as the steam and lava erupting from Kilauea, and geologists have connected that spirituality and cultural significance in many aspects of their volcanic classifications. Several volcanic phenomena unique to Kilauea have been named after Pele with geological features like Pele’s hair, Pele’s tears, and Limu o Pele.
Her spirit can take many forms, and many residents claim to have witnessed her walking along the roads in the Volcano National Park, vanishing if a passerby stops to help her. A friend of mine raised in Hilo told me if I ever drove through Volcanoes at night and saw a woman with white hair on the side of the road, I need to pick her up because that is Pele’s spirit. Pele may appear in many forms but is most commonly seen as a mysterious old woman with white hair, a beautiful young woman accompanied by a dog, and dressed in a red muumuu. Her appearance is thought to offer a warning of impending eruptions, and you will succumb to misfortune if you do not stop to help her at night.
Other legends surrounding Pele, Kilauea, and the Hawaiian Islands are Pele’s Curse employing bad luck on anything or anyone who takes objects away from Hawai’i. The curse is often associated with sand, rock, and pumice taken from sacred places, creating bad luck for whoever took it until they return it to Hawai’i. The origin of Pele’s Curse is thought to originate in the mid-20th century as tourist industries created the Hawaiian taboo to fuel the native lore of the volcanoes or discourage taking rocks and minerals from the park. Many natural items are received every year by mail at the Volcanoes’ National Park Service, as tourists seek Pele’s forgiveness for taking earthen materials.
No matter who started the legend of Pele’s Curse, it is a well-established aspect of Hawaiian cultural identity and the lore surrounding the islands. National Parks have since made it illegal to take any rocks, minerals, or materials out of the park, further protecting the valuable resources and sacred region.
Pele is intertwined in Hawaiian culture, and there are many hula dances dedicated to her intense prowess and the sheer power of the volcanoes. Hawaiian art, stories, and language are saturated with Pele’s origins and her journey throughout Hawai’i. She embodies power, beauty, fire, and passion. Her presence indicates rebirth and the growth of new land while also shrouded in destruction.
What does Pele awakening bode for Hawai’i today and into the future? As Pele awakened in late 2021 with a wondrous summit eruption and crater Lava Lake, tourists and national coverage were once again focused on the Big Island. People from all over the world flocked to the steep park slopes of the crater walls to witness the fiery inferno of Pele and her home. With the pandemic nearing an end and restrictions easing, many more tourists are likely to take their chance to see Kilauea as global travel begins to resume. Tourists and travelers should check the United States Geological Survey website for the Kilauea Volcano Updates to ensure their trip will coincide with an active event.
The Halema’uma’u crater is subject to rapid and unannounced changes, and active eruptions are not often sustained for long periods of time.
Increased tourism will lend a helping hand to the damaged local economy after multiple lockdowns the state has faced over 2020 and 2021 but it is too soon to tell how local populations will react to increasing traffic returning toward pre-pandemic levels. Maui already experienced overcrowding as tourism began to open there earlier this year. The new eruption also emits a warning to nearby residents who are all too familiar with the destruction posed by Kilauea and Pele.
The previous eruption event lasted from 2008 to 2018, erupting lava flows over the eastern rift zone into the surrounding Kalpana and Kaimu communities. Lava destroyed property and created new land before continuing into the Puna district toward the end of the eruption. Many of the affected residents in the region had to deal with a uniquely Hawaiian law that states any new land created by the erupting volcano voids any prior ownership claims on the area. Damaged property will remain as the property owner’s but requires reassessment for evaluation.
No matter what is in store for the island’s future, tourists and locals should keep an eye out for Pele because she is awake, and her spirit is alive and thriving in Hawai’i.
Author: Joe Giglio – Travel Blogger
Blog #: 0839 – 11/25/21
Why Tip? - Lodging Newsletter February 28, 2021
By Wm, May
Published: 02/28/21 Topics: AirBnB, Branding, Channel Management, Lodging Newsletter, Vacation Rental Management, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0
A new vacation rental landlord was appalled to find that the management firm put "Housekeeper Tip Envelopes" into homes. She incorrectly concluded that the housekeepers were not paid sufficiently.
Seems she has no idea how to be in the hospitality industry. Certainly housekeepers appreciate tips, but tips are not really there for the money.
- Tips show appreciation.
- Tips show recognition of the hard work.
- Tips show respect for undesirable work.
- Tips are the price you pay to avoid the job.
- Tips show you are a kind person.
Maybe if she scrubbed floors, unclogged toilets, and pushed a vacuum until her hands grew callouses, and did it for years on end, just maybe she would begin to feel what it's like to be disrespected.
During the Covid crisis, it has been reported that customers are tipping restaurant servers, delivery drivers, and other service people, less than ever before. Of course, some consumers have less money available to leave tips, but for everyone else - shame on us.
Millions have lost jobs. Some have taken positions at lower wages. Some have been forced into part-time work. So now is the time to show more respect for people, not less.
Without much forethought our family has been trying to tip higher than usual nowadays. But this ungrateful client gave us a brand new idea. Not only is it time to tip everyone well, maybe it's time to start a movement - it's time to double tip everyone.
Tonight we stopped for fast-food take-out and tipped $20 on a $25 order, plus a big heartfelt THANK YOU to people willing to work in a steamy hot restaurant kitchen so we could have an easy meal.
The wonderful young clerk said, "Oh, that’s too much." To which we had to say, "Oh no, that’s just right." And the best part of tipping double is that you will get more out of it than the recipient. Generosity always benefits the giver.
Do we brag too much in these newsletter? Or maybe we promote too little, because it is our duty to help clients make a good decision when choosing to become vacation rental landlords.
There are signficant differences in how to run a vacation rental, how to hire a thoroughly competent managers, how to deal with guests, what to think about all the advertising websites and their usurious fees. And even bigger issues confront someone cavalierly deciding to become a "Do It Yourself" owner.
Why would anyone want to DIY vacation rental management? There are those who need a hobby. Some feel it would be a joy to "talk" with guests. Some love the idea of sharing a home they are so proud of.
Those reasons are fine, of course, but the hidden factor in lodging managemement is that guests don't care about what owners want. It's not about the owner, it's about the guest.
Any owner can feel some success because, with today's online websites, most anyone, for most any kind of property can secure some bookings. But getting some bookings and getting all bookings at the highest possible rates is just not possible for most owners.
As the old saying goes, "Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every now and then."
So the question is how much are owners losing by going Do it Yourself?
Without the kind of completely comprehensive marketing, advertising, distribution, cross selling, hospitality grade cleaning, quick maintenance, and reservation experts like ours, most owners are earning half what they should be earning. And working twice as hard.
A HomeAway.com study revealed that owners spend an average of 9.2 hours per week dealing with rental issues. And some of those are in the middle of the night.
Self managing may give owners a sense of control, but unfortunately many such owners are overly selfish and fail at the good hospitality test. Some think they are "cutting out the middle man" (manager's fee), but most are actually cutting their income and increasing their work greatly.
By speaking with hundreds of guests on the phone each week, we hear them scream complaints about dealing with owners directly. They talk about owners who are non-responsive, not clean enough, rude and demanding. Not everyone is cut out to be in the hospitality industry.
If you don’t love people, even when they are difficult, you can't succeed fully in this business.
During Covid we have received calls from DIY owners everyday whose housekeepers failed to show up to clean. These owners lived hundreds or thousands of miles from their rental homes. They thought all they needed was someone to come over immediately to clean their homes,
They begged, "Hey can you help me out just this one time?"
We helped where we could, but our time and allegiance must be to home owners who value the stabilty, reliablity and quality of what we do and realize the value of having a trusted management firm ready to handle every little thing.
Author: Wm, May, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0811 – 02/28/21
Sponsor: Vortex Organization – We train quality people to help run unique Inns, Resorts and We train quality people to help run unique Inns, Resorts and Vacation Rental Management companies in an industry that has been a webby net of technology combined with good old fashioned property, guest and owner services. – VortexManagers.com
If Jimi Hendricks, Prince, and Pavarotti Were Hawaiian
By Wm. May
Published: 05/18/20 Topics: Hawaii, Music, Self Improvement Comments: 0
This blog is not about me. But a bit of background might help. I grew up playing all kinds of music from a young age, not necessarily playing well but playing none the less.
It started with a concert level pianist mother and a father with a soaring tenor voice. I picked up a trumpet in fourth grade, met the high school band instructor and play with him for 8 years through high school.
But first there were piano and trumpet lessons and concerts with the concert band, marching band, stage band, pep band, concert orchestra and even our own little school sponsored "Tijuana Brass" imitation band called - unbelievably in 1969- the Marijuana Brass.
A the age of 13 I happened to hear some new English group called the Beatles on the radio of our tiny neighborhood store Perini's. I was hooked and started a band, then another, playing with many great musicians while we all wanted to become famous and play on the Ed Sullivan TV show.
Or at least we wanted to be swooned over by girls in the way they swooned when watching the Beatles. In 1964, at the age of 13, somehow I talked some parent into driving my bandmates and I the 100 miles to attend a Beatles concerts at the Seattle Center Coliseum.
The Beatles played in the round and the stage slowly revolved so everyone could see them. The sound equipment quality was terrible. The girls screamed so loud we could not hear the music. But we could see the magic.
I played guitar and bass in numerous rock bands and made a living at it for some years, a small living. I partnered in a sound studio, a jingle company and an advertising agency. But eventually moved on to being a fan and not a performer. It was a good run.
In the Charles Cross's biography of Seattle's rock band "Heart", Ann and Nancy Wilson revealed they too attended one of the two times the Beatles played in Seattle.
As they walked out of the concert Nancy, the younger sister, asked , "Why are they all the girls screaming?"
To which Ann said, "They all want to marry the Beatles."
Said Nancy, "We don't want to marry the Beatles, we want to be the Beatles?
And the rest is Heart rock and roll history. They became famous. I did not.
As I said, this blog isn't about me, it is only to imply that I know a little about music and I know that I achieved journeyman status at best.. Years later I stumbled upon a musician who proved it.
Hearing Uncle Willie K music on the radio in Hawaii and then seeing him perform left me flabbergasted by his talent. His skill was astounding and his versatility beyond believing. You can love music and respect the musician at the same time.
Better than all of that, he had a kind of charisma I had never seen - sheer confidence and humor. He knew he could take an audience anywhere he wanted them to go. Including his rendition of "We are the world" completed with uncanny imitations of Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen and Tina Turner. No body else can do that
Eric Gilliom, a versatile TV actor and Hawaiian music master, formed a "Hawaiian Super group" with Willie called Barefoot Natives. Before one show willie asked him what was the most money he had ever made doing a concert. When Eric said something like $10,000 willie sat down and said, "Let me see your $10,000 show tonight."
willie and Eric' sister the superlative Amy Hanaialii Gilliom became a couple and willie produce four award winning albums of their own brand of Hawaiian and other music. I loved the music before I knew who they were. As did every Hawaiian.
William Awihilima Kahaiali'I - willie K - grew up playing young at the knee of his father the nationally known and admired Manu Kahaiali'i. Willie was just one of 13 children, so his Dad played music 7 days a week to pay the bills, everything from jazz, blues and Hawaiian of course.
Maybe that is why he branched in so many musical directions. He idolized Jimi Hendricks and prince. That lead him to just about every other kind of music. He was famous for Christmas Carols, but also Salsa, Jazz and Reggae.
He was sought out and accompanied Mick Fleetwood of Fleet Mac, his solo chagrined Billy Idol of ZZ top, Prince praised him, Willy Nelson sang duets with him, but so did Alice Cooper. BB king invited him on stage, he sang with the Commodores and he laughed with comedian Jim Cary. Barack Obama played willie K loud during workouts. willie and Steven Tyler became best buddies.
Maybe they loved they guy because they felt a little like me - unworthy.
He was known through out the world for guitar and ukulele skills but 10 years ago at a local Hawaiian concert he baffled the audience when he dismissed the other musicians from stage, stood silent a long while and finally said, very somberly,
"I am very sad. Last week Pavarotti died. I think he and I were brothers. Tonight I will sing Nessum Dorma"
Afterward, 800 people sat silent and then jumped to their feet screaming "Hanna Hou" (encore). It was the start of many appearances with symphony's singing opera music. On a trip to Israel he brought Jewish congregations to tears by mastering the Israeli national nation.
In 2018, willie K announced that he had contracted a very aggressive cancer, but promised to keep performing as he always had, at every opportunity. His Maui Bluest fest continued each year. He took aggressive treatment but in the end he died quietly at his home May 18, 2020 surround by Ohana.
I didn’t know William Awihilima Kahaiali'I personally, and yet everyone who saw him perform knew him personally. The way it is with all great musicians and performers, they leave themselves, their skills, their personalities and souls on stage with all to see.
Upon hearing of willie's passing, Alice Cooper said it best, "Heaven will be in for one hell of a surprise. I can almost hear the thunderous applause."
There are so many links because of the variety. Couldn't stop myself.
Author: Wm. May – Music Fan
Blog #: 0757 – 05/18/20
Clean, Wipe, Soak, Scrub, Brush, Scour, Polish
By Ron Lee
Published: 04/18/20 Topics: Covid-19 Virus, Housekeeping, Property Management Comments: 0
How to Clean and Sanitize Vacation Rental Homes
Since our first office opened in 1964, we have been rigorously cleaning and sanitizing properties for decades. This is nothing new to us. In fact, our homes are cleaned to a degree higher than most people have at home. It has always been our commitment to have every home safe and ready for guest arrival.
Get a Real Getaway
If you need a vacation, holiday escape, spring break, fresh air and time alone, vacation rentals are the best option. Bring kids or not. Bring the family or just your spouse. Most homes are free-standing, so you can avoid crowds. Even in our condos, the homes are open corridor, so there is no need to pass through common areas, like lobbies and dark hallways.
When Guests Depart
After guests depart, housekeepers arrive at every home to clean, wipe, soak, scrub, brush, scour, mop and polish bathrooms, kitchens, bedrooms, common spaces and even decks and patios, linens, towels and surfaces. Hot tubs are disinfected. This entire process - called "out Clean" - takes many hours. Then homes are spot checked by managers to ensure good work. When departing, all staff members use bleach rags, so that even the door knob and key-safe are sanitized. Wow!
Sanitation Cleaning Products
We use a variety of products to clean, disinfect and sanitize. All are approved for high health standards. We still use bleach for some areas because it is still the gold standard for killing every kind of bug. In fact, if you enter a home immediately after housekeepers depart, for a few minutes you may detect a slight cleaning smell. That is your assurance of sanitization.
Bathroom Super Scrub
Cleaning bathrooms is not a fun task, but we carefully clean all sinks, mirrors, toilets, drawers, bathtubs and shower enclosures until they sparkle. But they have also been sprayed and later wiped with disinfectant. Soiled and unsoiled towels are removed before cleaning starts to avoid cross contamination. This is a hands-and-knees job, but housekeepers pride themselves on meticulous cleaning.
Proper Wipe Downs
You might think that spraying and wiping surfaces with disinfectant is sufficient, but it is not. Instead, disinfectant must be left on surfaces for a period of time before it is wiped away. This gives time for the liquid to kill all the germs.
- Door knobs inside and outside.
- Window switches.
- Light switches and sockets.
- Lamp switches.
- Cupboard doors and surfaces.
- Table tops including night stands.
- Appliances - top and sides.
- Counter tops.
- Reachable walls.
- Outdoor furniture.
- Stairs and deck handrails.
- Toasters and coffee makers.
- TV and other remote controls.
- Stereos and computers.
- Door bells and key safes.
- Toys and board games.
- Pet toys and blankets.
- And more.
Vacuuming, Mopping, Sweeping
Are you ever tempted to do floors fast? By slowing down the process and covering every floor surface carefully, dirt, grime and germs are removed. We keep equipment new and well maintained to get the best results. Housekeepers are never limited to cleaning hours. Instead, they are encouraged to take all the time they need to do the job right.
Kitchens and Dining Rooms
Kitchens get splattered on, baked in and used heavily. It is a big job, but to get kitchens spic-and-span is essential, from the stove to oven to refrigerator, but also microwaves, cupboards, fans and light fixtures. Cleaned inside and out. You will notice we remove condiments, such as ketchup and mustard left from prior guests, because leaving open containers violates health standards. You'll have to bring your own, but you'll know they are new and fresh.
Hot Tubs and Spas
Every hot tub is completely disinfected after each booking by trained staff members. Sand or debris is removed, filters are inspected, and chemicals are adjusted. In addition, the hot tub cove, top and side surfaces are disinfected. If you arrive to a tub that is not yet fully heated, please wait because we had to empty and refill it. Takes time to reheat.
Towels and Linens
Washing and drying linens and towels is an obvious step, be we wall all of them, even if a bed does not appear to have been slept in. They are transported to the washer-dryer using rubber gloves and laundry bags, and they are returned to beds in baskets to avoid cross contamination. Along with quality detergent, additional disinfectant is added to all washing to ensure germs are eradicated.
In addition to our rigorous out-clean, homes receive deep cleans regularly to cover hard to access areas, including heating ducts, cupboard sides and ceilings, high surfaces, fans, carpets and more. This takes many hours, and ensures the cleanest possible property.
When Guests Depart
You may notice that we do NOT as guests to do laundry or to remove linens and towels to the laundry area. We do it all to ensure that every textile has been washed and cleaned properly without dragging it through the house.
Call Us Quick: 206-504-2744
If at any time during your stay, if you find any issue, call our 24-7-365 day phone number for assistance. If necessary, our staff will happily come to the property to ensure all is right. And if you want daily cleaning, we can arrange that too, for a small additional fee.
Avoid Crowds, Stay in a Private, Vacation Home!
Year round, in every season, and no matter what is happening in the rest of the world, vacation rentals offer a respite from the rate race, a chance to get away and to enjoy a sparkling clean, sanitized home.
Author: Ron Lee, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0742 – 04/18/20
By William May
Published: 01/17/15 Topics: Government Comments: 0
This is not a story about prohibiting Christmas trees from governmental property due to freedom of religion restrictions. Instead, it’s a new taking of your ability to put a Christmas Tree in the lobby of privately owned condo buildings, restaurants and more. Geeeesh. Is nothing sacred? Read more Leave comments
By William May
Published: 08/15/12 Topics: Comments: 0
Going to a grand hotel for grand service will never go away. Stopping for a quick night at a convenient motel makes long trips easier. And now Vacation Rentals allow property owners to share their homes with responsible guests. It lights up the neighborhood, keeps home in good condition and shows the communities hospitality. Read more Leave comments
By William May
Published: 03/01/10 Topics: Comments: 0
Operating a vacation rental business can be fun and profitable but it also an opportunity to do some good in the world. Now property owners and managers can do that by participating in a public program that offer Read more Leave comments
By William May
Published: 01/09/09 Topics: Comments: 0
The Grand Hyatt at Poipu Kauai Hawaii is a real gem. If you want beauty and pampering this is your place - provided you want to a small room, high prices, less privacy and a hike to everything you might want to do. For just about $400 per night you get one of the 602 motel 6 size rooms. Better appo Read more Leave comments
By William May
Published: 11/24/08 Topics: Comments: 0
The next President of the United States has effectively endorsed the entire concept of Vacation Rentals by renting a private home in Kailua on the North Shore of Oahu, a Hawaiian Island. He is staying there for a week with his wife Michelle and two daughters. He is staying at a secluded beach re Read more Leave comments
By Ana M. Kinkaid
Published: 06/11/07 Topics: Comments: 0
Vacation Rentals are the newest member of the hospitality industry. Here are some of the ways that vacation rentals offer an attractive alternative to traditional lodging. LOTS OF ROOM - One of the biggest differences between a vacation rental and almost all other forms of lodging is the space ava Read more Leave comments
By William May
Published: 09/05/04 Topics: Comments: 0
I kid you not. The LA Times is reporting that Estullah Rooz, after years of fighting Soviets, rival Mujahedee and the Taliban, the man known as the Commander Mullah is going corporate. And how you say? Well, he's building the first Swiss designed and pre-fabricated Vacation Rental homes on Lake Qarg Read more Leave comments
By William May
Published: 04/06/04 Topics: Comments: 0
Can anyone tell me why a family would stay in a Hotel for their vacation? I was reminded recently of how distressing it can be when we visited the famous Waikiki Beach area of Hawaii. Penny and I hadn't spent much time there for 20 years but my 14 year old son decided there were things he just nee Read more Leave comments
By William May
Published: 12/22/03 Topics: Comments: 0
It was six years ago on Christmas day. My then eight year old son and I were snorkeling about 40 yards off shore at Poipu Beach Kauai. Having taken weekly swimming lessons since he was just 9 months old Taylor felt safe swimming with me out and around a point in hopes of seeing one of the endangered Read more Leave comments
By William May
Published: 12/15/03 Topics: Comments: 0
Mele Kalikimaka Haouli Makahiki Hou (Merry Christmas Happy New Year from Hawaii). There are many wonderful reasons for owning a vacation home. But my favorite is the way ownership allows people to make another place home. And I don't mean just a nice place to eat and sleep. Instead, if you are Read more Leave comments